Zirichiltaggi S. W. C. Non profit Association for Wildlife Conservation

Sassari, Italy

Zirichiltaggi S. W. C. Non profit Association for Wildlife Conservation

Sassari, Italy
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Ball S.E.,UK Institute of Zoology | Bovero S.,Zirichiltaggi S. W. C. Non profit Association for Wildlife Conservation | Sotgiu G.,Zirichiltaggi S. W. C. Non profit Association for Wildlife Conservation | Tessa G.,Zirichiltaggi S. W. C. Non profit Association for Wildlife Conservation | And 7 more authors.
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2017

The identification of historic and contemporary barriers to dispersal is central to the conservation of endangered amphibians, but may be hindered by their complex life history and elusive nature. The complementary information generated by mitochondrial (mtDNA) and microsatellite markers generates a valuable tool in elucidating population structure and the impact of habitat fragmentation. We applied this approach to the study of an endangered montane newt, Euproctus platycephalus. Endemic to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, it is threatened by anthropogenic activity, disease, and climate change. We have demonstrated a clear hierarchy of structure across genetically divergent and spatially distinct subpopulations. Divergence between three main mountain regions dominated genetic partitioning with both markers. Mitochondrial phylogeography revealed a deep division dating to ca. 1 million years ago (Mya), isolating the northern region, and further differentiation between the central and southern regions ca. 0.5 Mya, suggesting an association with Pleistocene severe glacial oscillations. Our findings are consistent with a model of southward range expansion during glacial periods, with postglacial range retraction to montane habitat and subsequent genetic isolation. Microsatellite markers revealed further strong population structure, demonstrating significant divergence within the central region, and partial differentiation within the south. The northern population showed reduced genetic diversity. Discordance between mitochondrial and microsatellite markers at this scale indicated a further complexity of population structure, in keeping with male-biased dispersal and female philopatry. Our study underscores the need to elucidate cryptic population structure in the ecology and conservation strategies for endangered island-restricted amphibians, especially in the context of disease and climate change. © 2017 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Bielby J.,UK Institute of Zoology | Bovero S.,Zirichiltaggi S. W. C. Non profit Association for Wildlife Conservation | Angelini C.,Zirichiltaggi S. W. C. Non profit Association for Wildlife Conservation | Favelli M.,Zirichiltaggi S. W. C. Non profit Association for Wildlife Conservation | And 6 more authors.
Diversity and Distributions | Year: 2013

Aim: In a highly endemic, threatened amphibian assemblage, we measure and describe the geographic and taxonomic distribution of the amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), with a view to identifying those sites and species most at risk of infection and its negative consequences. Additionally, we aimed to determine the potential for direct transmission events between two known carriers of Bd infection. Location: The island of Sardinia. Methods: We collected swab and tissue samples of amphibians from a wide range of geographic sites and species. We used epidemiological and statistical techniques to quantify deviations from a random distribution. We used random forests to investigate habitat use and overlap in two species known to be infected by Bd to quantify a surrogate measure of the contact rates between these two species. Results: Both geographic and taxonomic distributions of Bd were highly non-random: we identified a cluster of infections in the north of the island and found that two species, Euproctus platycephalus and Discoglossus sardus, had a relatively high prevalence of infection within this cluster. Our analyses suggest that, on the basis of their fine-scale habitat use, they have relatively little opportunity for direct transmission and could maintain Bd infection independently. Main conclusions: Our results illustrate how obtaining detailed information on the geographic and taxonomic distribution of infection is a useful first step in assessing the risk of infection for species within the region. Attempting to quantify possible routes of transmission amongst species further aids us in identifying mechanisms of pathogen persistence within the host community. Within this assemblage, we have identified two hosts that carry infection and may be at risk. Further, our research suggests that these two species may be able to maintain infection independently of one another, which has implications for attempts to mitigate this parasite. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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